Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What’s More Important Than Big Data? Actionable Insights

Sometimes simply the word “data” is enough to make anyone but the analytics guru freeze, but what if I told you that it’s not really the data that matters? Last year, the big thing in data was…well, big data. It seems like it was all anybody was talking about, from Forbes to the Harvard Business Review. Big data was in. It was fundamental. It was the end-all-be-all. I’m not going to venture so far as to say that big data isn’t important–because it is–but what I will say is that it’s not the most important. The most important thing about big data is what you can do with it, and the fact that it doesn’t take a data scientist. Ready for the big secret? Big data is just your building block for something much more important to your business’ success–Actionable Insights. But now we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the basics.

Big data is just your building block for something much more important to your business’ success–Actionable Insights.

So, What is Big Data?

IBM offers a great, digestible explanation that boils it down to:

“Big data is being generated by everything around us at all times. Every digital process and social media exchange produces it. Systems, sensors and mobile devices transmit it.”

So big data really is…big. It’s essentially everything about your products and your customers that you’re collecting via customer conversations, social media, connected products; and you’re collecting it whether you know it or not.

What Can You Do With This Big Data?

According to IBM, only 8% of customers agree that companies deliver a superior experience. But wait, weren’t we just talking about big data? Why all this customer experience talk? Because one of big data’s most important (and often overlooked) uses is turning all that data into actionable insights. Taking action on the data you collect will ultimately increase your customer’s experience with your brand during every step of their journey with your products, and better customer experience means happier customers, which means more revenue per customer. And the best news: it doesn’t require a Data Scientist to get started. It’s as easy as noticing patterns and trends in the data you collect, whether it’s via conversations with your customers, CRM analytics, social media, or connected products. Brent Dykes, Director of Data Strategy at Domo, looks at data’s relationship to Actionable Insights as a pyramid, with Data being the base and Actionable Insights being at the top.

Actionable insights sit at the apex of your data pyramid. An insight that drives action is typically more valuable than one that simply answers a question–especially an insight that makes you rethink something and pushes you in a new direction. They are the highly treasured output of all the work that goes into collecting, preparing and analyzing your data.” –Brent Dykes, Forbes

So once you’ve built up the base of your data pyramid–whether it is via your company’s Data Scientist or through your own records and observations–what comes next? Here are three easy steps to get you on your way to seeing significant returns from your big data:

  1. Start Thinking in Customer-First Terms

For product companies, it’s easy to get caught up in the data associated with your product, but what about the data associated with your customers? Customer data can be found in every step of the product journey, from pre-purchase all the way through the product lifecycle. Pre-purchase, your marketing team can track website analytics and begin to see trends in visitor behavior: what pages are getting the most views? Which call to action is getting the most clicks? Post-purchase, your customer success team can gather customer information via product registration, and your service and support teams can garner feedback from surveys and customer interactions. Once you’re able to identify where you can find customer data, then you can start to identify trends.

  1. Explore Your Data

Whether you’re the go-to-person for all things data or simply the holder of a CRM login credential, you, yes you, have the ability to start digging into the data. Start small; If you’re unfamiliar with the systems in which you store customer data, allow yourself 20 minutes a day to start exploring. Click around, meet with a colleague that knows the ropes, and figure out how the data is gathered, organized, and acted upon.

  1. Identify Actionable Insights

Once you get to the point of knowing your way around the data, start compiling a list of possible actions you could take in order to further engage your customers. This could be as simple as creating a spreadsheet to record data and its corresponding action. For example:

Data Action
82% of customers submit product registration after 5 p.m. on weeknights Have your product team send our reminders (push notification, text, email, phone call) to register new products after 5 p.m. on weeknights
3 out of 5 customers purchase via a certain big box store Use that big box store to beta test new product labels
Your website gets more traffic from LinkedIn than from Twitter Direct your marketing team to focus more on content (and possibly more budget) for LinkedIn


As you can see, your actions don’t have to be grand gestures that will require massive budget changes and provide huge ROI. Start small. It’s all about turning your
data into action.

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